An article in the New York Times of September 3rd notes how towns shore up their revenue base by issuing traffic tickets – no surprise there. The article cites a paper by two economists at George Mason University that notes how out of town motorists “were much more likely to get citations. A driver from out of town had a 10 percent higher probability of getting a ticket than a local driver, holding speed and other characteristics constant”. Interestingly, the study also finds that “ticketing was modestly lower in towns with high levels of employment in the hospitality industry suggesting that police departments might consider the effects of aggressive ticketing on local commerce.”
That predictive ability ought to deter local governments that aggressively go after the pockets of outsiders in a bid to keep property taxes low. Unfortunately, it is a lesson that is seldom learnt as jurisdictions around the country continue to aggressively ticket, tax (most commonly for convention centers) and otherwise sock it to Joe and Jane from Anytown but hometown. Perhaps, the findings of the recent study ought to be disseminated widely to deter legislators from short-sightedly targeting outsiders to curry favor (and votes) from local residents.